Sunday, March 7, 2010

SOTD: L'Artisan Parfumeur Fou d'Absinthe, and Spring Cleaning


That is, this is the perfect scent for the current season. It's not lemony-sparkling-soapbubbles-pink-flowery fresh, like many of the summer fragrances that I'm not ready for. And it's not smoky-musky-furry-cat-napping-on-buttered-toast, like many of the winter fragrances that I'm tired of.

It's bitter. And a little sweet. A volatile, vaporous, new-green kind of bittersweet. Medicinal, in a good way. It's Spring Cleaning perfume, at least right now while I'm doing the spring cleaning.

Though in the vision that it generates, I'm not doing the spring cleaning. I'm sitting around in clothes that were extracted from the pine-scented wardrobe that's been keeping them safe all winter and aired on the line all morning, drinking liqueur from a very fine glass and occasionally catching sight of the housekeeper doing the spring cleaning. The housekeeper of my very British and very well-run city house, who uses old-fashioned things like herbs and resinous polishes for refreshing the place, not nasty modern things like white-musky detergent. It's an Edwardian house, the sort where murdered guests are found on the hearthrug and written about by Agatha Christie...

Yes, OK, I'll get a grip. But this is the sort of perfume that offers plenty of food to the imagination. The notes - just to give you some concrete information - are absinthe, angelica, blackcurrant buds, star anise, four-spices, patchouli, pine needles, labdanum, and fir balsam. Reviews call it a fougere, but one where anise takes the place of the lavender. As someone who loves anise and tends to see lavender as something for dusty old-lady sachets, I approve of the substitution.

It is, by the way, officially a man's perfume. This rarely worries me, and it doesn't worry me here.

I'm having trouble describing the development, I suspect because I'm not too familiar with these notes. The beginning is stronger in anise, absinthe and alcohol. The end is much softer and more herbal. The middle is, well, in between those two.

None of it is the least bit cuddly, but somehow all of it is still very comforting. It feels clean and safe, but not in a soapy, grocery, TV commercial way. It's a more armored sort of way, as if nothing bad would dare intrude through those vapors. A sort of olfactory protective talisman, perhaps.

Yes, my imagination's running away with me again. But it is, again, perfect.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Bois de Jasmin and Basenotes and Perfume-Smellin' Things and MakeupAlley and Fragrantica and Perfume-Smellin' Things again and Perfume Shrine.

(You know my Postal Regulation Phobia? Now I'm developing an FTC Regulation Phobia. It's driving me to mention that I got my bottle at a discount, at a perfume shop that knew that I had a blog. I'm confident that there is no Discount/Blog connection - in addition to the fact that no one would waste money buying my opinion, the shop owner was offering discounts right and left to other people. But here I go, Disclosing, just in case. Take note, FTC.)

Photo: By Eric Litton. Wikimedia Commons. (And I have used it before, but it's so beautiful, I couldn't use anything else for this perfume.)


  1. This is one I might have sniffed once and passed off as too masculine for my skin. But now that I've gotten DH on the fragrance train, I might need to re-explore!

  2. By the way, for my absinthe fix, I turn to SL Douce Amere......mmmmmmm.......

  3. Any element of fougere is going to make it a big NO for me. I sniffed this one from the sample vial and immediately swapped it. The herbal stuff was nice, the shaving cream stuff is def. not my thing.

  4. I have some very happy memories of drinking my dear friend's moonshine absinthe back in the early 90s... and some very unhappy memories of those same wormwood-soaked times. (She & her girlfriend used to distill the stuff on their kitchen stove--- scary!! The place never blew up, thankfully...)

    Never could "get" to this one-- I'm quite ticklish when it comes to all things anise-y. Wanted to like it, though... More for you!

  5. I really liked it - I love anything anise-y and absinthe is yummy, and I wish I could love it, but yet another scent that does the disappearing act on me. Sigh.

  6. This almost certainly won't be my thing - don't like any absinthey scents stronger than Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise. Don't drink Pastis either. : - )

    But if it gees a person up to spring clean, it gets considerable points for that.

  7. Hey, lovethescents! Yes, if you don't love it on you, you might love it on him.

    Ah, yes, Douce Amere is lovely. I see her as Fou d'Absinthe's shy little sister. He Serves and Protects, and she just quietly charms.

    Mals, that's interesting. I suspect that I'm missing some basic association with men's scents - no man in my family has ever worn a scent, that I recall. That may be part of why I have so little problem wearing the men's stuff.

    Howdy, LCN! Absinthe does strike me as a particularly exotic memory detail.

    Anise is one of the notes that draws me to something good and helps me forgive something bad, so it makes me very happy here. Sadly, Himself doesn't like it much, though he was OK with it in this one.

    Frida! Oh, dear. L'Artisan does do that so often, but this one, on my skin and with my nose, holds up pretty strongly for several hours. It even stages a bit of a rally toward the end, abruptly becoming stronger for an hour or two.

    Flittersniffer! Well, Himself does like it, and he officially dislikes anise, so it might be worth a try. But not a going-out-of-your-way try.

    Yeah, I may make it my official housekeeping scent, which is _so_ not the image that l'Artisan has for it, I'm sure.